Gordon: House Passes Landmark Bill Investing in America's Students, Teachers, Workers


(Washington, DC) Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed groundbreaking legislation today aimed at ensuring the United States' strong footing as a global economic leader and retaining our "brainpower advantage."

"Now is the time for us to strengthen our support for the creativity, the innovation and the talented workforce that makes the U.S. unique and gives us our competitive edge," said Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), lead House negotiator on the bill.

As cleared by the House today, the conference agreement on H.R. 2272, the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science Act (COMPETES), makes improvements to math and science education and strengthens the nation's commitment to scientific research.

"Securing a brighter future for our children is simply not a partisan issue. I'm proud that my colleagues and I have been able to work together to move this bill forward - this truly a team effort," added Gordon, who began work on competitiveness and innovation legislation in the 109th Congress.

The measure is designed to ensure U.S. students, teachers, businesses and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research and technology, well into the future. The bill represents a conference committee agreement melding House (H.R. 2272) and Senate bills (S. 761). The America COMPETES Act is based upon the recommendations of the widely-regarded 2005 National Academies' report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." That report, requested by a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers including the leaders of this Committee, found that the U.S. stands to lose its competitive edge over other nations without action.

Among its findings: in 1999, 68 percent of U.S. 8th grade students received math instruction from a teacher who lacked a degree or certification in the field. In 2000, 93 percent of students in grades 5-9 received physical science instruction from teachers who lacked a degree or certification in the physical sciences (chemistry, geology, general science or physics).

In high schools, about 30 percent of math students and 60 percent of physical science students face the same fact. The numbers are worse for low-income students, where 70 percent of their math teachers majored in something other than math in college.

To address these concerns, the COMPETES Act:

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  • Authorizes a total of $33.6 billion dollars over fiscal years 2008-2010 for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs across the federal government;
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  • Authorizes multiple grant programs at various federal agencies to help educate current and future teachers in the areas of science and math education;
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  • Creates the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST);
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  • Establishes the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E), designed to engage in high-risk, high reward energy research under the Department of Energy;
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  • And keeps budgets for research programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science on a path to doubling within the near term.

The conference report has been endorsed by a wide variety of academic, research and business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable and the Information Technology Industry Council.

The Senate is expected to consider the conference report on H.R. 2272 this week. Click here to read the text of the conference agreement, amendments and a section-by-section summary of the bill.

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